William Shatner is 85 today. As of the moment I am typing this, 4:05 p.m. on March 21, Mr. Shatner has sent out approximately 40 Tweets today alone, all of them joshing replies to questions from his many admirers, like this one:
I'm the pied piper of Twitter… https://t.co/W88qnAIGv5
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 21, 2016
I am sure there will be 40 more between when I type this and when you will be reading this.
His show business career is legendary, one of the few in which an actor has traveled the road from up-and-coming new star of the future to leading man to has-been to leading man to parody to self-parody and then back to leading man. Perhaps he has always been an up-and-coming performer, just starting out, and we are the ones who have insisted on boxing him in. Shatner has remained a perpetual 45-55 years of age for the last 45 years. I have friends who have interviewed him, and the reports are always that meeting him was one of life’s highlights for them.
He is living long and, it appears, prospering. And he seems incapable of slowing down, much less stopping. A tv appearance from February (below the fold):
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“The big thing about the theater, as opposed to the other art forms, is that it has to be performed. It has to be tried out in front of an audience, it doesn’t exist in the library when you write it. So young writers and middle-aged writers and some old writers need a place where their work can be heard. If that were going on, that would be great.”—Stephen Sondheim in The Guardian, March 14, 2016
The composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim is 86 today. “Anyone Can Whistle”:
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A short (46-second) film, “La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon” (Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory) was shown to an audience of about 200 people in Paris on this date in 1895. Motion pictures had been around for a few years, but audiences were limited to one at a time in “peepshow” booths. This event, a conference on developments in photography, was the first mass audience for a movie. The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, thought that the audience would be most interested in the new inventions for colorizing photographs, but they were wrong. Their brief film, the first cinéma vérité documentary, was the sensation. The film:
The film was recorded on March 19, 1895, two days before the exhibition at which it was first shown.
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E. D. Hirsch is 88 today. Senator Orrin Hatch is 82. Angelo Badalamenti is 79 today. A “Twin Peaks” interview:
Billy Collins is 75 today. “Genius,” a poem by Collins:
was what they called you in high school
if you tripped on a shoelace in the hall
and all your books went flying.
Or if you walked into an open locker door,
you would be known as Einstein,
who imagined riding a streetcar into infinity.
Later, genius became someone
who could take a sliver of chalk and squire pi
a hundred places out beyond the decimal point,
or a man painting on his back on a scaffold,
or drawing a waterwheel in a margin,
or spinning out a little night music.
But earlier this week on a wooded path,
I thought the swans afloat on the reservoir
were the true geniuses,
the ones who had figured out how to fly,
how to be both beautiful and brutal,
and how to mate for life.
Twenty-four geniuses in all,
for I numbered them as Yeats had done,
deployed upon the calm, crystalline surface—
forty-eight if we count their white reflections,
or an even fifty if you want to throw in me
and the dog running up ahead,
who were at least smart enough to be out
that morning—she sniffing the ground,
me with my head up in the bright morning air.
George Benson is 73 today. Don Chaney is 70 today. James Patterson is 69. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Baron Lloyd-Webber, is 68 today. Wolf Blitzer is 68. Bob Costas is 64 today. Lena Olin is 61. Stephanie Mills is 59 today. Matthew Modine is 57. Reese Witherspoon is 40 today.
According to the Star Trek mythology, James Tiberius Kirk will be born on March 22, 2233, in Riverside, Iowa. (See Shatner, William, above.) Riverside’s chamber of commerce took action in 1985 and chiseled a sign (they got the date wrong, however):
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